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Australian Conservation Foundation Sustainable Cities Index
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Australian Conservation Foundation Sustainable Cities Index

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Given that our cities generate 75 per cent of our employment and 80 per cent of our GDP, they are the key to Australia's long term economic prosperity and will form the basis for whether we can create a healthier and more sustainable future for all Australians during this century.

The impact of our cities and wasteful consumption of resources, combined with substantial population growth, poor planning decisions and lack of infrastructure investment, continues to come at a high cost to our economy, society and Australia's unique environment.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is committed to inspiring people to achieve a healthy environment for all Australians. For over 40 years they have been a strong voice for the environment. ACF has played a key role in increasing protection for some of Australia's most important natural assets, including the Franklin River, Kakadu National Park, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

The ACF Sustainable Cities Index is a snapshot of comparative performance in the 20 largest cities in Australia. It explores the relationship between Australia's natural and built environments to inform people during the necessary transition towards sustainable cities. In the awards, Darwin was judged the most sustainable city, followed closely by the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

The least sustainable cities were Newcastle, Geelong and Perth. No city did well across all 15 indicators, and while each has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, no Australian city can yet be held up as a real champion in sustainable urban development. As CEO of the ACF, Don Henry, states in the Foreword to the Index, all of our cities would benefit from increased and better targeted investment to provide efficient, affordable and healthy transport choices (reducing our oil dependence and vulnerability) and improved energy and water efficiency for households and workplaces (protecting us from future price rises).

Our car-dependent cities, which today fuel asthma, obesity and biodiversity loss, can be transformed into cleaner, more efficient places with great public and active transport, improved amenity and happier, healthier residents.

W. A. Senator, Scott Ludlam, of the Greens, raised the findings of the Index recently in the Senate, and spoke about the urgent need for the provision of greener infrastructure in Australian cities and towns. He said that the study shows that both federal and state governments need to fund improved public transport urgently, to get people out of cars and into less congesting, less polluting and ultimately less expensive public transport options, such as light rail, cycling and walking.

He also said: "The study shows that we need to vastly improve household and workplace energy and water efficiency. Taking steps in these areas will reduce household bills and protect us from future energy price rises. We also need to get out of the mentality that simply building more roads will fix traffic congestion. All of the evidence around the world indicates that building bigger roads simply attracts more traffic. In contrast, when public and active transport infrastructure is built ... people are attracted to use the service and this improves the amenity of the area. Local economies pick up and business benefits."

For more information about the ACF Sustainable Cities Index, please see: www.acfonline.org.au



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